In the not so recent past there has been articles about the decline of and dearth of craft beer in Brisbane.
For a time that was true.
After the Platform bar gave up on the Craft Beer community there was little left for beer lovers in Brisbane. Recently this has all changed and the craft beer venues scene in Brisbane is now one of the best in the country.
Not only are there some great new venues, there is also a great variety of venues. There is something for every beer lover and something that should appeal to all people and help get more people into good beer.
First up we have what is, now, the veteran of the Brisbane scene located in the West End, Archive Bar. After a number of visits over a couple of years, Archive seems to be making a move towards a safer beer list.
The bar and bottle shop next-door that is an extension of the existing bar was not open at the time of my most recent visit so there may be something more interesting in there.
Archive is still a great space with some really good beers. The list just seems to be coming back towards the mainstream from what it was in the past. While this may be a good thing for getting more punters in, it is disappointing for the beer lover looking for something a bit different. It’s a good place to go and drink for some good quality beers but not the place you would go to discover new and interesting things.
A great place to spend the night with some good pale ales and some mates.
For a small but very cool space right in the middle of the CBD one of the newest kids on the block is Super Whatnot bar. In the style of a Melbourne bar tucked down a little lane way this is a really cool space, with a fantastic layout and some really good beer.
The space is across a split level with a really cool lounge area downstairs and some tables and chairs upstairs. Even the bathrooms have cool industrial style fittings. In the main bar there is lots of exposed brick and the like.
The staff were excellent, super friendly and seemed to know a bit about the beer they were serving too which is always a nice touch. While not the super beer geek venue, it is a cool venue with great beer. Right in the middle of the city this place will be rocking with the after work crowd and on Friday and Saturday nights.
Down in The Valley there are a couple of new options that are both good but very different venues. For the more mainstream crowd there is Yard Bird Alehouse.
Going for an American theme with burgers and chicken wings, Yard Bird stocks the more mainstream of the local craft beers. While still good beers they are not at the challenging end of what is available. While you won’t find a sour Belgian style on the list you will find a good pale ale you can use to wash down some very tasty spicy chicken wings and blue cheese sauce.
The spicy chicken wings were exactly what you would expect and a very tasty beer snack. There are a number of flavours to choose from and some tasty sounding burgers on the menu too. This is a great place if you are going out with non beer people but want to be able to get something decent to drink.
Further down the Valley you will find a very different place, but a very good beer venue nonetheless. The Hideaway bar is what seems to have become popular to call a ‘dive bar’. I’m not a fan of the term myself.
Imagine somewhere furnished with the sort of furniture your grandmother had in the 70s and you are getting close to what this place and similar venues are like.
The beer list here is the next step up from a place like Yard Bird. Just a little more interesting and challenging. To go with the good beer list they have some good malts available too. This is a great relaxed little place to hang out and have a few drinks.
Most of the beers available are from the bottle as they only have one tap and probably not a lot of space to add any more. The one tap beer on my visit was Cooper’s Pale. Not the most interesting thing in the world but a lot better than the average generic pale lager from either of the two big boys. This is a relaxed little lounge that would be a great for a late night drink.
Not far from the Valley, just up the road in New Farm is another new and very different venue. Just off one of the main streets is a great new bar/restaurant going by the name of Bitter Suite.
Bitter Suite is a great combination of good food and an excellent beer list. The menu is what the foodies describe as modern Australian. We chose from a number of things from the tapas list and they were all excellent.
The duck pancakes and the chorizo are both highly recommended. The beer list is where things get exciting though. There are plenty of the favourites you would expect to find at a specialist beer venue plus some hard to find beverages that you won’t find in many other places.
Examples of this were an IPA from local brewer Bacchus, and two very rare drops from NSW South Coast nano brewer Hop Dog. The Hop Dog beers in particular were worth travelling for.
The staff were all really friendly and seemed to care about the beer and wanted to talk about it. The owners were really passionate people who care about great food and beer.
When in Brisbane and you need a good meal or just a great beer you really should get down to New Farm and visit Bitter Suite.
Truly one of the best beer venues in the country with a great menu to go along with it. Across town in Milton is arguably Brisbane’s best beer venue.
The Scratch is another new bar they describe as a craft beer dive. The term isn’t the greatest but the bar is certainly good.
The Scratch reminds me of my favourite and regular watering hole, The Wheatsheaf Hotel, in Adelaide. This, I assure you, is very high praise. The Wheatsheaf Hotel is the arguably the best beer venue in Australia so this is very high praise for The Scratch.
It is one of Brisbane’s new small venues that are licensed for 60 people. They still manage to fit in four taps pouring some great local beers and a huge collection of great beer in the fridge. This included beers from new Melbourne upstarts Moon Dog which was a pleasant surprise. There were also some great beer from locals that you never find outside the area.
While they don’t serve meals they do have an excellent cheese plate and you can have some pizza delivered if you need something a bit more substantial. The Scratch is the place for the beer geeks while not making it uncomfortable for those that don’t know a roggen from a rauch. They have some good malt on the shelf too.
This is my pick for the beer geeks.
All in all there is now something for every beer drinker in Brisbane. Just a short time ago Brisbane had very few options for beer lovers. Now there is something for every type of beer lover. Melbourne may still be the capital for good beer in Australia but Brisbane is certainly making some moves.
It should be noted that this isn’t an exhaustive list – the author was in town for a limited time and wasn’t able to get to such quality places as another favourite, Kerbside. The fact that you can’t visit all of Brisbane’s good beer venues in a couple of nights simply highlights the change in Brisbane in just 12 months. ED